Mary Clark came back to town on Christmas Eve. She had finally had her holiday, and felt like she had regained all of her strength. She was ready to hear all of the complaints that the citizens were going to have when she got to town. What she found was quite unexpected.
What now is Fiery Creek Old Town was all surrounded by an enormous wall, with several giant sections around it created for forests and food production. Several new neighbourhoods had grown around the walls of Fiery Creek, and it now looked more like a city than a small town. Mary walked to the Caliph’s Palace, where she found Ba’al at work, answering to some complaints.
“Hello?” she asked.
He seemed surprised. “Mary…?”
“What’s going on? What happened in town? It’s so… different“.
“You have been away for five years! The town has boomed in that time” Ba’al explained.
“Five years? But how could that… Oh, wait, I think I know. I took this nap that felt longer than usual. So, if it felt like I had been away for a month to me… That must mean… That I slept for five years” Mary calculated.
“I mean, you probably needed some rest. You did use a lot of energy when fighting against the Kitties…” Ba’al estimated. “It’s still weird, though”.
A new voice joined the conversation. “Mary? You look the same as five years ago!”
Mary turned around and saw Diane. She was a young, 15 year old teenage girl now. She had grown as tall a Mary herself, and she kept her long hair loose on her back. She was smiling at the Mayor. Mary covered her mouth in surprise.
“Oh my God, Diane! You’ve grown… Wow!” Mary hugged the girl.
“It’s been a long five years” Ba’al said, standing up from the chair and hugging Mary, too.
“You need to update me on everything. And we need to announce that I’m back” Mary said.
“It’s Christmas’ Eve. How about we wait until we’ve celebrated Christmas? You can join us on the dinner table” Ba’al offered.
“Oh, no, I wouldn’t want to bother a family celebration…” Mary said.
Diane interrupted Mary’s excuses. “Mary, we’ve celebrated Christmas together, with friends and neighbours, ever since my mother died. One more person in the dinner table will not bother any of us”.
“I’m sorry to hear about your mother…” Mary said.
“Don’t be. I told her not to go to the market that day, that she would get hit by a falling meteorite. She didn’t listen” Diane explained.
Ba’al intervened, trying to change the path of the conversation. “Also, it’s been some time since we last saw each other, and you are an old family friend, so…”
“OK” Mary acceded. “But who is going?”
“This year it’s just going to be a few of us. My friend Erin Pyp is coming” Diane explained.
“Erin Pyp? Who is that?” Mary asked.
“She is the new Fiery Creek librarian” Ba’al explained. “She’s bringing her new boyfriend, right?”
“Yes, she’s coming with John” Diane confirmed.
“You have a lot to update me on” Mary commented.
They all walked to Ba’al’s home early.